Letters from Queen Victoria go astray

On March 9, The Times reported that a letter from Queen Victoria to Tennyson was up for auction in New York. For years it had been available in Lincoln, with other lettters, to historians of the period. They are now in the hands of a number of private individuals, as Alistair Lexden, a historian of the Victorian era, explained in a letter published in the paper on March 13.

Sir, The impending sale of Queen Victoria’s letter in reply to Tennyson, written in 1884 after the death of her haemophiliac son Leopold, will not reveal what was “previously unseen” (“Victoria’s grief-stricken letter to Tennyson”, Mar. 9). It was printed in full in Dear and Honoured Lady: The Correspondence of Queen Victoria and Alfred Tennyson,  published in 1969.  The book’s introduction states that the queen’s letters to her poet laureate “are preserved, through the generosity of the present Lord Tennyson, in the Tennyson Research Centre at the City Library at Lincoln”. Subsequently, the letters were sold individually, breaking up an important collection, which all historians of Victorian England will deplore.

Lord Lexden
House of Lords